Second phase of pilot project to reduce “inappropriate use of A&E” starts Tuesday

First phase results dubbed “extremely favourable”

The second phase of the Call First, Save Lives pilot project to reduce inappropriate use of emergency services begins tomorrow, after an “extremely favourable” evaluation in the first phase, writes Lusa.

The first phase took place during the second half of last year in the municipalities of Póvoa de Varzim and Vila do Conde. The second phase is taking place in the same municipalities, namely at the Póvoa de Varzim/Vila do Conde Local Health Unit.

According to the Executive Directorate of the National Health Service (DE-SNS), during the first phase “around 17,500 appointments were booked via the SNS 24 Line, in Primary Health Care (PHC), with a date and time (in less than 24 hours)“.

According to a statement, this way it was possible to avoid “unjustified attendances at hospital emergency services”, as well as improving the quality of the response, “always ensuring the safety of the processes”.

“It was also possible, through the SNS 24 Health Line, for around 7,000 users to remain in self-care, in the same way that General and Family Medicine (CSP) directly scheduled 265 open hospital appointments in different specialities, as well as day hospital sessions for users with exacerbations of chronic illnesses,” the statement continues.

With the direct referral of patients to the home hospitalisation service, recourse to the emergency service was avoided, “fulfilling the true spirit of the recently created local health units”.

The DE-SNS emphasises that the aim of this change is for the patient, in the event of an acute illness, to always call the SNS24 line first, “so that they can be directed to the most appropriate place for their clinical situation, avoiding unnecessary travel and wasting time and overloading the emergency service”.

In this way, the emergency services are more available for serious illnesses.

The municipalities of Póvoa de Varzim and Vila do Conde were chosen to implement this pilot project because they have good road access, short travel times, 99% of the population has a family doctor and primary health care is fully organised into family health units, as stated in the decree that defines the conditions for implementing the second phase of the project.

In other words, the pilot project has been carried out in an area unused to the ‘chaos’ that has been witnessed in hospitals in busy urban areas, like Lisbon and its suburbs.

Source material: LUSA